Sunday, January 08, 2017

Drive-In Saturday Night Live: Bowie 70

The Sunday rains bring the 70th birthday of a MainMan, at almost the year anniversary of his untimely passing.
It also dredges up an ages old debate: What is the single greatest musical performance in the history of NBC's Saturday Night Live? This post hopes to settle that question, forever.
Of course there are others. Elvis Costello famously changing tunes mid-song. Joe Jackson and his stopwatch timer. That Radiohead freakout with the horns. John Belushi cramming Fear down Lorne Michaels' throat. But one performance stands, I'm afraid, head-and-shoulder-puppet above the rest.
He starts out in an authentic China Airlines stewardess outfit and things get progressively wilder from there. Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias provide possibly the single most memorable backing vocals in human history, plus a little toy poodle with a TV for a mouth. By the time it gets to the third song, whole revolutions in music video technology are happening live onscreen. Sorry Joe, you'll need more than a stopwatch to top this guy.
I admit I have searched for a clean, master-sourced copy of this 11 minutes of utter mayhem for almost 30 years, always having to settle for the washed-out VHS dubs. Well, settle no more friends... I finally found the NBC pre-broadcast source two days ago, on a somewhat stealthy Bowie-dedicated tracker. I have got it in the cloud and all you need to do is click the link below to make it rain.
There's always been a mystery with this footage: who the f are the dudes in the band besides noted Downtown NYC late-'70s freaks Klaus and Joey? It's gone back and forth for years, with some even suggesting the sunglassed dudes are Tony Thompson, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from Chic, attempting anonymity! Upon a daylong perusal of the thing frame by frame, my opinion is it's just Dennis Davis, Carlos Alomar and George Murray from DB's band of the time, plus session ace guitarist Stacey Heydon and Jimmy Destri from Blondie on keys.
No matter, it could be Alvin and the Chipmunks and it'd still be the weirdest 11 minutes of TV ever. This is as crazy as any musical segment on television ever shown in our lifetimes, dare I say. I think this version even has the simulcast FM stereo audio... yes, they did that for the heavyweights back in the days before you could stream it all to the device of your choice and be home in time for the collapse of civilization.
David Bowie
"Saturday Night Live"
Studio 8H
NBC-TV Studios
New York City, NY

01 The Man Who Sold the World
02 TVC15
03 Boys Keep Swinging
04 outro

Total time: 10:55

David Bowie - vocals
Jimmy Destri - keyboards
Dennis Davis - drums
Stacey Heydon - lead guitar
Carlos Alomar - guitar
George Murray - bass
Klaus Nomi - vocals
Joey Arias - vocals

NTSC DVD, looks like the NBC master tape at last!!! Sounds like the stereo audio from the FM simulcast as well
BUT WAIT, there's more. By way of a special new wrinkle here, I shall begin Easter Egging tasty extra treats into these screeds, for the hardcore beasts of bloggliness who endeavor to slog through the whole thing, as anyone reading this has done. By way of rewards for the effort, I have also placed into the rainy Sunday clouds my 71-track, 4CD ridonkulous Bowie playlist, with each track fussed over to make it all sound of a piece and a few real rarities, that I have had in my phone since the sad day a year ago when  he passed. This is 5 and a half hours of what made him possibly the definitive artist of our lifetimes and I'd put it up against any Best Of Bowie thing ever concocted. Anyway go get it, the FLACs are right here and I made 320K mp3s as well, to be grabbed right here.
There you are, rare footages and gigando playlists abundant! All to celebrate the Man Who Sold the World with a tribute fitting a true Artistic Titan of all times. It's no accident our world has seemed to spiral downward since he left us... maybe if we play his music enough, the balance will reset. At any rate he'd have been 70 today, a Starman waiting in the sky for you to look up and see him in the Heavenly firmament. Enjoy and HBD DB, born this day in 1947 and definitively immortal as anyone ever to have lived.--J.
1.8.1947 - 1.10.2016